Hong Kong ISPs Condemn Plans for Internet Restrictions in an Open Letter to the Government

By Bill Toulas / August 30, 2019

The Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association (HKISPA) has published an open letter addressed to the island’s government and the mainland China authority. As the letter warns, internet restrictions won’t only damage the democracy in Hong Kong, but also the economy on both the island and mainland China. As they further explain, it would be technically challenging and practically impossible to block any services effectively anyway, while the idea of establishing a large-scale surveillance firewall would fail miserably. As they predict, such efforts would lead to a situation of an ever-increasing level of restrictions, and the eventual removal of Hong Kong from international business shortlists.

HKISPA considers Hong Kong’s open internet to be the crucial key to its success, and an absolute prerequisite for the drawing of foreign investments. As they point out, the region is home to over a hundred data centers, serving as a coveted telecommunications hub. A characteristic example of the dire results that the recent developments in the area have brought is the Facebook Libra investment that has qualified Singapore as a safer choice. This is one huge loss for Hong Kong, but further restrictions will only accelerate the losses and speed up the decay of the local investment space.

The problem with Hong Kong right now is that the Chinese regime wants to incorporate the special administrative region under its strict umbrella, essentially scrapping whatever form of autonomy it enjoyed since 1997. It all started when the Chinese government wanting to enable the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to the mainland back in June, with the citizens protesting against it as they feared that this would only be the start to a gradual encroachment of their liberties. Since then, a lot has happened, and various blocking efforts such as a suspicious Telegram DDoS took place.

With two months behind us now, protests in Hong Kong continue, the police crackdown has intensified, and multiple cases of police brutality have socked the international community. The Chinese government is not showing any signs of wanting to take a step back on the matter, however, as they continue to downplay the international backlash, the travel warnings, and the supporting demonstrations in other cities in the world. Now, HKISPA hopes that through their letter, they will convince the Chinese government that any plan to restrict Hong Kong’s internet will have immediate negative effects on China's economy as well. Their arguments, however, are unlikely to persuade the government, as firewalls and blocks are all that China’s command knows and trusts. If you are in Hong Kong and having trouble accessing websites, try one of these VPN solutions.

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